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>> we would like to hear from you. tweet as your feedback, >> military historian patrick o' donnell recounts the u.s. army's second ranger battalion company, also known as "dog company". the group was composed of 68 men in a military campaign during world war ii including landing on the beaches of normandy and the ascent of point do hawk. it starts right now on booktv. [applause] >> thank you for having me here today. it is great to see so many of my friends here. this is a situation where things of come full circle in many ways. is a trite saying that today is the bat -- anniversary of the
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battle of volusia where i got started as a combat historian. on that day i will never forget we went through an aid station in -- and al qaeda aid station. there was blood on the floor and cots, a situation that was interesting. i will never forget looks on the side of the wall, the light had changed. there was obviously a person that was running next to me on the other side of the wall. i had this sense of foreboding. seconds later, a marine was killed along with a member of the iraqi forces that were accompanying us. it was a very poignant moment, shot in the head, the battalion commander was right next to me. five minute before that, said who are you? i am a combat historian and i'm here to gather your story. i have written several books on
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world war ii. interestingly enough he said any, a colonel of the battalion, he said my father was the pilot in world war ii who fought on the eastern front. we had this immediate reports and within five minute for engage in combat. what was so striking and interesting is this young marine was killed, he said gentlemen, i want to see a symphony fire. quoted general patton that day, every one of us including me, a civilian arm with an m-16 because i wanted to survive, fired down the block, we suppressed those people. several years later we came back, i was given the honor of taking the fifth marines which he led to normandy and we toward
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the normandy battlefields with the men i was in full. away, and went to pointe du hoc which is the subject of this book "dog company" which i'm going to talk about. the book i talked about earlier was called we are one, the battle of volusia. when we were at pointe du hoc on those windswept beaches on that peninsula it was a magical moment. i was with the people live off within volusia, we went back in time to world war ii. let me take you back in time ted june 6, 1944. six:00 a.m. force a, most of the second ranger battalion, d, e and f company, the most important objective of d-day, pointe du hoc, pointe du hoc had six done that could reach omaha
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and utah beach as well as the naval ships that were out in the english channel. everything was done to neutralize guns in pointe du hoc. there were a thousand men, rangers assigned to that objective, they also send nearly a dozen aerial bombardment missions, a thousand bombers, hundred tons of ordnance was dropped on pointe du hoc. places turned to the surface of the moon, but as the book i am going to talk about today, "dog company," two men accomplished the mention of 1,000 men and 1,000 bombers, an incredible story. at 6:00 a.m. landing craft from force a were headed towards pointe du hoc, which is very interesting is a suspicious chain of the events took place the change the course of
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history, navigation error with the radar and the royal navy lt. that was guiding the boats was not working at that time, they were headed for the wrong objective which was an objective for the rangers, it was a cliff on the other side of omaha beach, they were not going to pointe du hoc. all the landing craft or heading in the wrong direction. at that time they were supposed to land at 6:30 a.m. the air or bombed pointe du hoc. if the rangers had landed at the time they were allocated it would have all been killed by their own bombers. they were at the wrong point and they were headed to another place. the fifth ranger battalion assigned to pointe du hoc beefed up the mission to 1,000 men, could not get in contact with the second ranger battalion at
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that time. every one of the radios didn't work. they went to their secondary objective, we did ten minute and went to their secondary objective and landed on omaha beach exactly at the right time and place they were supposed to end change the course of the events because they were the only reserve force at the time. meanwhile, forced a which was second ranger battalion and dog company hit pointe du hoc vastly outnumbered by the germans on the top and going to counter attack. this is a scene in immortalized in president reagan's speech the voice of pointe du hoc. the other landing craft, some of them--the main character of my book landed in the shell hole and went under water completely. he was completely submerged under water and a shell hole created by the battleship texas, swam his way out and they
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started climbing slippery ropes that were slippery and wet because of all the see water that had hit them. many of the grapnels didn't work when they tried to fire them and on top of that, the germans on top of the cliff started cutting the ropes, cutting the ropes to the least of their problems, started firing down on these rangers with and keep 42 machine guns that fire at a rate of 1500 rounds a minute. one of the first books that had the german side of pointe du hoc. these german machine gunners change out there beryl's because the n g e 42s were working. many of these were hit. 68 men in "dog company" and 67 overkill the next couple days. as they climbed the top of the cliff the germans were throwing potato masher grenades and the
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cliff was rained with 4s in today's parlance. they told french artillery shells and suspended them on wires around a cliff as these men climbed up. the climb wasn't even hardest part. on top of the cliff practically a gun situation, the place was a fortress. there were told everywhere, bunkers, minefields, barbed wire. these men had to fight for all that. the main character of my book was shot through the side with a machine gun bullet as he climbed to the top of the cliff, got to the top, took out a machine gun bunker and they moved forward. everyone of these rangers had an objective. there were six guns at pointe du hoc. the move along as they accurately depicts the guns were not there. they replied -- in an apple orchard. main guns were not in the cattle
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positions that were fortified. there were telephone poles to code in land and, fighting for with a small group and assemble the men, largest group of men on top of pointe du hoc and found some tire tracks and moved inland. these men had trained for six months prior to d-day, some of the greatest, most trained men of the invasion. they trained for six months without sinking harnesses, clique that ridge 300 feet high with full equipment and gas masks, grenades, they scaled those cliffs and they did that for six months. their officers hasten to add to be a little bit more combat simulated they actually fired over their heads as they climbed the cliff for six months. these men were ready. when it got to the top, he saw
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some fire tracks, an old french road, he started to pursue what he saw as tracks and thought maybe these are guns. you walked down a country road, there were germans all over the place, they avoided them and miraculously they split and to groups, they were in the firefight, split up in groups and found the guns. i will never forget the expression, he said to me, oh my god, there they are. as he looked up, he saw five of the guns that were ready to go. they were positioned to fire upon utah beach. most of the rangers were equipped with there might grenades, burned and a highly high temperature over 1,000 degrees. they pulled out the grenades and welded each of the gun parts and
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moving parts in the guns, he took his thompson submachine gun and smashed the sites of the guns, and meanwhile what is most amazing is literally no more than 100 yards from here, 120 germans were assembling, ready to go on the guns, these other crews, ready to fire upon the beach, somehow miraculously they were able to destroy the guns before the men where there. this is a story just told to me, it is documented extensively at the national archives. a lot of oral histories that i found, a number of oral histories are in the wrong box that were taken two months after the event by a legendary historian who interviewed these men. that is not the end of the
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story, hardly. "dog company" about their whole war from pointe du hoc to germany where they lead patton's army. we go from there, what is next is part of a story i didn't even really know about until i started researching it. these men accomplished their secondary objective which is to set up a roadblock to cut the road that connected omaha beach and utah beach. it ran across the top of pointe du hoc. the setup and l shaped wine for the next two days, the germans counterattacked. an entire platoon from the company was taken out by the germans who were captured and broke through part of the line. only "dog company" held as part of the line and severed the road so germans couldn't reenforce from one beach to the other.
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this is a very close thing. one of the men that was attached to the second ranger battalion was colonel trevor for who was with number one command that fought through north africana and one of the most poignant sayings he had was i have never come so close to being either killed or captured that night. he was convinced that that was going to happen because the germans were the wind was the counterattacking. from pointe du hoc a men of dog company held and then fought for the rest of europe. as they fought for europe the next place they were at was breast which was there was a coastal port, a major fortification, the allies needed to resupply their forces and needed the harbor. the only problem was there was another gun issue.
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like pointe du hoc it was a suicide mission. the battery, the grass battery, as many people called it, had massive battle should sized guns that were buried most of the entire fortress was buried underground, picture kind of a four story building fortress that had been buried underground. there were elevator's going down, there was an entire hospital, mess hall, everything. to the naked eye, you look across a farmer's field and all you see is a tiny little pillbox, that was the battery and for months the men of "dog company" tried to find that battery and take it. that was their objective.
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the guns were devastating. they fought on hill's 63 in the men described to me how the shells came over like freight trains. the shells could destroy an entire hedgerow, small mound of earth and barry men alive and that is exactly what happened. a fox for several weeks in this place and what is amazing is a small team of four men, known as the fabulous four, the fabulous four found a bunker in a small path that had been worn out. it looks like it had been utilized, the entire battery surrounded by hundreds of thousands of lines of barbed wire, machine gun nuts, pillboxes, extremely heavily fortified but found a well-worn path and decided to go down it.
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they went down the path and found a small pillbox, broke through the door and captured all men in the pillbox. remarkably the lieutenant was educated in the united states and he said i am ready to surrender. lieutenant edmonds said to him take me to the commander of the fort and that is exactly what he did. with his tongue begun in his side the fabulous four went through the battery, down an elevator, went through an amphitheater that looked like a football field and they went into the depths of the guns of navarrone type situation. and the commanding officer's office and he decided to break through the door and the commanding officer gave him -- what you want? we would like you to surrender
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the 4 ridge. the commanding officer's -- he was incredulous. you are only four men. he picked up the telephone and said you are my prisoner. at that point, robert edmond had one of the greatest bluffs of world war ii, pull out a hand grenade and put it between his legs and said you are going to surrender. at that point, eight hundred men surrendered after rebroadcast that over the loudspeaker. incredible story of world war ii that is completely documented in the national archives. for his efforts robert englund received the bronze star. colonel rudder put him in for the medal of honor, eventually received distinguished service cross for his actions but it is
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typical of many rangers out there, never been a ranger who received a medal of honor and after the breast campaign the men moved in boxcars that could take 40 men or eight horses, moved up to a place which some people call the factory of death, a six months campaign, the longest battle of world war ii that never took place, the allies were convinced the forest would be an assembly area that if it wasn't neutralized the allied armies would be attacked, the germans recognized the forces in a natural defensive place and spend several days pouring it with german veterans, every single -- the place was pre registered, there were
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bunkers, it was a death trap. there were hundreds and hundreds of thousands of mines across the forest floor and conifer trees blocked the sunlight, it was hard to see at times. in blog co. a battalion was placed at the reserve unit. it was fair, special operations missions and many of them took place. but all the men have universally said one thing, our longest day was not d-day. was december 7th, 1944. let me take you now to the second ranger battalion, one of their greatest battles. in many ways it is an untold story in a place called bird seen, practically an entire army
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tank regiment was task -- sort of the at that time the farthest penetration into germany. the tank regiment was practically destroyed. behind dirk steen was held 400. the only people that were left in reserve was the second ranger battalion. it became a minister -- men with -- germans moved around the burnout houses, germans send whatever our ritter they and tank destroyers and took out literally 30 or 40 chairmans -- german --shermans. if they might have not come we would have lost the town.
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they ordered the second ranger battalion of dog company, and seized the high ground at hill 400. the reason that is important is because it was a window into hitler's greatest secret of the war at the time which was the battle of the bulge. nine days later on december 16th, it there would launch the battle of the bulge. the bulge assembly areas, there is a perfect view of them on top of hill 400. the germans knew that high ground had to be held at all costs or seized. the rangers wanted is also because it had very good artillery positions and that morning on december 7th they were ordered to clear the rest of bernstein. as they moved out sellers were filled with water that was waist deep and weber told they had to
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take hold 400. it is an incredible story. they went through a cemetery, the grades were overturned, it had been shelled so many times by german artillery. they moved through that, being hit by artillery, german artillery and they moved up towards a sunken road. the sunken road was in front of them, a large open field the size of a football field. looming in front of them was held 400. somehow they had to get across that field and sees the hill. this is one of the most incredible stories of the war and one of the few time there was a bayonet charge. the men were behind the sunken
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road preparing to assault held 400. as they were doing that, german artillery was falling behind, up large amounts of artillery and in front of them hour artillery. the two fields of artillery were converging and getting closer and closer to the rangers behind the sunken road and they were about to be turned into ham burger meat. the ranger officers said send out a scout. obviously foolhardy. there was no point to that, a man was going to die. they said don't do it, don't do it. the officer said send out the
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scout. it is an order. the man said don't send out the scout, don't let him go. they tried to hold the man back and he followed his orders and went across the field and he was shocked in the stomach. 30 seconds before the charge was supposed to take place the men got up, one of the men took his machine gun, he said let's get the bastard. a fixed bayonets and charged across the field and they yelled the rebel yell right out of the civil war. one of the rangers said it was one of the most glorious moments to be a ranger. as they charged across the field was the perfect time. the artillery was now falling on the germans rather than a sunken road. was the perfect window of opportunity and they seized the pillboxes and went up the hill.
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what happens next is unbelievable. with hardly any men they started out with roughly 120 men, they lost many men in the charge, lost men, ran up the hill, i have been to this place and toward it with a german veterans, ran up the hill and took the pillbox that was on top of the hill which was the main center of gravity because it offered protection and the protection it offered was from the artillery. picture a rainstorm but instead of raindrops it with shrapnel and tree splitters. 18 battalions of german artillery rained down on that hill, killing germans and americans alike. it became unbearable.
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on top of that, within half an hour, 45 minutes, the germans according to their doctor and began to power back. they hit it with company strength or more. sometimes even a battalion. 2 -- leader they started storming the hill. this happened five times. one of the most poignant scenes is from a foxhole that was obscured by a rock. as a charge up the hill they were about to overrun the rangers on top near the pillbox. there were several german bodies that were in front of the foxhole. almost like a scene out of the movie where eagles their. he picked up two m g 42 machine
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pistols and with both hands fired into the oncoming germans and stopped the entire attack and that is not an anecdote that was given to me in an oral history, that was in the official after action report and confirmed by six seven other rangers who were right next to him. that is the kind of courage these men had. things got so dicey, they considered evacuate in the hills. they were ordered to hold back all costs, even though reinforcements were not coming. that is exactly what they did. the men who held hill 400 against all odds, against every one of these german assaults and some household the hill, remarkably on the eighth of december they left the hill and remained in allied hands, there was intelligence reported back
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about german troop movements or leap ten or 12 miles away. but none of that information ever got to the right place. the dots were never connected and on december 16th the battle of the bulge took place, to the surprise of all allies. from there, dog company, 60. was reduced to about 20 men. there was hardly anyone left but they continued to fight on. replacement came in here and there, bringing it back up to three but they fought for the rest of germany. they acted as a reconnaissance force for general patton and his army as they pushed through into the rhine. they crossed the rhine river and pushed deeper and deeper into germany. eventually ended up in czechoslovakia.
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one ranger said to me they asked the rangers, sidney solomon was a very good friend of mine, did you just land on d-day? no. it was a very long walk from normandy all the way to check a slovakia. that is what these men did. they led the way across germany. thank you very much. i will take your questions. [applause] >> did they capture any camps? >> yes they did. several of the men encounter camps along the way. in those stories, many of the men in headquarters company encountered camps and they talked about seeing these human skeletons in side of the camp.
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it crystallized everything that they were fighting for. they had seen firsthand exactly what the third reich had done to people and they realize it became very self evident what the war was about. yes, sir? >> you have written a lot about a lot of incredible courage, particularly personal. what are the more compelling stories you have experienced as a result of your research? >> it is an honor to have you here. for me, one that comes to mind, literally a couple days ago, a veteran of the -- i have interviewed almost 5,000 world war ii veterans.
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mr joy's story was exceptional. he dropped into occupied france in may of 1944, hit his radio in a box of green beans calm but train occupied -- they set up a save house in france and transmitted some of the most important intelligence of any agent to the 16 for 16 on troop movements, oil refineries, airstrikes, it is incredible. he also was able to rescue hundreds of downed airman. three months ago i got a call that renee had passed away. i interviewed mr. deloitte at his house in 2002 and he was the first person he ever told this story about. is wife was kind enough to give
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me some teach and was an incredible interview as he brought me back in time. his son told me something very striking. arlington had denied their request for burial because at the time of the war he was a french citizen even though general eisenhower had personally given him the distinguished service cross and he was in uniform, american uniform after the war, he became an american citizen as well as a world-renowned heart doctor who had an incredible things for america. to make a long story short, he sent general david petraeus and e-mail landon ten minutes got back to me and we had for the next three months general david petraeus, people basically had gone in and worked, the letters had been written to basically
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create a justification, an exception. three days ago he will be laid to rest in darlington. [applause] >> did dog company receive any proper recognition for what they did? >> i am so pleased many of the family and people that i know very personally are here. bob, you were a member of george company 3 one in the chosen reservoir. part of a book i wrote called give me tomorrow, you were a machine gunner and it is an honor to have you here. like george company, for the most part dog company hasn't received as much recognition as they deserve. they received a presidential citation for their actions at
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pointe du hoc, but hills 400 remains an open issue. they deserve a presidential citation for that action. they charged that hill and held against all odds. the last letter to tom, one of my main characters in this book, got the presidential unit citation for dog company and that is now in progress. i think out of all the units in the european theater of operation, this is one that needs to be looked at again. dog company's action merits presidential unit citation. hopefully a little bit of luck, we will get the powers that be to look at it again. [inaudible] >> like everything. i don't know about that. bureaucracy works in a very slow
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away. i just hope the veterans of dog company receive the honor they deserve. yes? >> amazing characters in dog company, larger-than-life real-life characters and i was wondering about some of the characters that stand out to you in terms of actions. >> thanks for being here. you helped me in many ways with this book. i really appreciate that. people have said this has a dirty dozen feel in some ways. these characters are right out of a movie. for instance, the commanding officer of dog company looks and have a sort of demeanor lee marvin from the dirty dozen.
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capt. slater. the other characters are also very memorable. for instance, tom, one of the five men of dog company or still alive, there are 68 -- only five left thigh. his nickname before the war was tommy knight because he was attacked answer -- a capt. dancer, tommy knight was on that dance floor all across the united states but his claim to fame in world war ii was a great sniper for dog company. also one of the funniest. why ever met and agreed interviewer. during the work, he was an incredible person and remains larger than life. another individual in the book that i love because he captures the humanity of war, feeling that the motions, arguably one
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of the great rangers of the book, and teddy was very interesting as a character, it is a pain to authority, and challenge authority and waddles like a duck because he broke both legs in a parachute training operation and lost both front teeth and he was initially disqualified for not having his chief. was the instigator or person that didn't want to buck the authority. he wasn't going to take no for an answer. so he said i want to be a ranger. what is the deal. you don't have your front teeth. i'm not here to bite the germans, i am here to fight the germans. he became one of the great
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rangers of a dog company. the man killed 30 germans on d-day, desperate rearguard he held was d.a.r.. heroic society, really captured the feeling and the motion of dog company like no other ranger. that is the theme that runs through many of my books. it is the hidden war these men felt, their feelings and emotions and he definitely captured that. yes? >> what has been the response from the family when they heard you were writing this? >> the response has been overwhelmingly positive. that for me, the greatest thing anybody can ever say. in some cases they said the book
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provided closure. we were won for instance -- that was the greatest compliment i could ever receive. that somehow my small efforts provided a little bit of closure to the families of either veterans that died or never talked about the war. it is one of the reasons i have done the things i have done. for the last 20 years, this day marks 20 years i have been gathering the oral histories of america's combat veterans from world war i through the current conflict in afghanistan. people said to me what i have done, provided some level of closure in some small way, that is the greatest compliment anybody could ever give me.
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>> despite the battle for bill 400, for dog company anywhere else? >> the highest casualty rate was at pointe du hoc where there's a picture in the book of a handwritten note of the number of killed and wounded in dog company and every single one of the men with the exception of a few were all wounded and there were 27 men that were killed from june 6th to june 8th in d-day. >> follow-up question. >> they inflicted a number of casualties. the primary -- besides the stabling the guns, pointe du hoc siphon off hundreds of troops that could have been deployed to
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omaha beach. these men killed many many germans that could have otherwise been manning machine-gun positions on omaha beach. who knows what would have happened if those hundreds of men had been deployed at omaha beach where pointe du hoc. >> i know what i will be reading this veterans day weekend. i want to get my copy signed. thank you very much for being here. thank you so much. >> thank you. [applause] >> for more information visit the author's website, patrick o' ♪ >> if we turned away from the
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needs of others, we align ourselves with those forces which are bringing about this offering. >> what happens, you ought to take advantage -- >> obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis. >> little antennas that point up when somebody had their own agenda. >> so much influence, it is a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief confidante, really in a way the only one in the world you can trust. >> many of the women who were first ladies were writers, journalists, they wrote books. >> they are in many cases quite frankly more interesting as human beings than their husbands. if only because they are not first and foremost be fined and
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consequently limited by political in decision. >> both socially adept and politically savvy. >> dolly madison loved every minute of it. absolutely his -- >> you can't rule without including watch women want and what women have to contribute. ..
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>> she transformed the way we look at bugaboos to make it possible for people to survive and to flourish as a result. i don't know how many presidents realistically have that kind of impact on the way we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded about all of the people who lived there before and particularly all of the women. >> in 1942,

Book TV
CSPAN December 25, 2012 9:15am-10:00am EST

Patrick O'Donnell Education. (2012) 'Dog Company The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--The Rangers who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Lead the Way Across Europe.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY Pointe 7, Normandy 4, Germany 4, Pointe Du Hoc 4, Omaha 4, Volusia 3, Patton 3, Battalion 2, Utah Beach 2, France 2, Us 2, David Petraeus 2, Rangers 2, United States 2, America 2, Europe 2, Rhine 2, Omaha Beach 2, Landon 1, Mr. Deloitte 1
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